We are here to encourage the development of gifted young singers and to stimulate the growth of New York City's invaluable chamber opera companies. But we will not neglect the Metropolitan Opera either. Get ready for bouquets and brickbats.

Sunday, April 29, 2012


A cheerful disposition requires being grateful for what one experiences and not mourning for what is missed.  Let it be said also that, at times, a taste of something is so wonderful that one is completely satisfied.  Such was the case Friday when I was fortunate enough to hear half of the final  Lindemann recital of the season.

Looking every inch the diva but sounding like the artist she is, glamorous soprano Lei Xu inhabited each chanson of Berlioz' Les Nuits d'Ete with such dramatic intensity that it seemed to be an operatic aria.  In "Le spectre de la rose", one could virtually inhale the aroma.  Several of the songs relate to loss and one could feel the heart deeply touched.  Ms. Xu's voice has a beautiful bloom on top.  Her piano partner Bryan Wagorn seemed to breathe with her and supported totally without ever overwhelming.

Baritone Luthando Qave sang three Schubert lieder accompanied by Alexandra Naumenko.  The fast tempo taken in "Die Forelle" made the song seem less serious.  The audience favorite was "Erlkönig" in which Mr. Qave's dramatic skills were given free rein.  Never have we heard such an evil seductive Erlkonig!  The voice of The Father sounded appropriately reassuring with some underlying anxiety.  However, one might have wished for a lighter more frightened sounding child.  Ms. Naumenko has a firm hand on the piano and there were moments when a lighter touch would have added some variety.

Her firm hand stood her in good stead as tenor Mario Chang sang Verdi's "L'esule" with a gorgeous Italianate sound.  This is a sizable voice, one that is quite suited to the Verdi repertoire and we were sorry to miss his Tosti songs and the Spanish songs with which he ended the program.

But we were committed to hearing pianist Soheil Nasseri perform his traditional program at Bargemusic in Brooklyn.  What a pleasure to hear our favorite composers played with verve and style.  We were most taken by Schubert's Sonata in A minor, D.845, Op.42; given our love for lieder, this is quite understandable since Schubert's melodies are always so engaging.  And especially since Mr. Nasser's piano "sings" so beautifully with lyrical phrasing and variety of color. 

Mr. Nasseri continued with Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet: Ten Pieces for Piano, Op.75, a piano reduction written some time after the orchestral version.  It seemed amazing how many subtleties of instrumentation the piano was able to reproduce.  Scenes from the ballet kept drifting in front of our eyes.

The program ended with Beethoven's Sonata No. 18 in E-flat Major.  We were particularly enchanted by the lyrical Menuetto and the playful Presto con fuoco.

It seemed bizarre to be thinking about Montsalvatge's "Cuba dentro de un piano" until I realized I was hearing an entire universe in Mr. Nasseri's piano.  This ambitious artist has promised to perform all of Beethoven's works involving piano by 2020, the 250th anniversary of the composer's birth.  Although Mr. Nasseri performs all over the world we hope to be present for more of them.

(c) meche kroop

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